SEOUL – The popularity of K-pop is taking a dive — at least in the stock market — after South Korean police confirmed a member of the Big Bang boy band is being investigated as part of a probe into prostitution at Seoul nightclubs.
Initial media reports that surfaced last week have divided the band’s young fan base on social media. Stocks of talent agencies took a plunge Monday after Yonhap News named Seungri, nicknamed “Korea’s Great Gatsby” for his opulent lifestyle, as a suspect in a probe involving prostitutes at clubs in the Gangnam area in Seoul. Prostitution is illegal in South Korea.
A police officer at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Monday confirmed the Yonhap News report. The officer declined to provide a name due to an internal policy. Representatives of YG Entertainment Inc., which manages Big Bang, weren’t immediately available for comment.
YG Entertainment slid as much as 14 percent. SM Entertainment Co., known for boy bands including Exo, fell as much as 11 percent, while JYP Entertainment Corp., manager of popular girl group Twice, dropped as much as 4.5 percent.
“I guess I need to wait until the issue of Seungri is resolved,” said Yoon Joonwon, a fund manager at HDC Asset Management, who holds “a few shares” in K-pop stocks.
Big Bang, formed in 2006 by YG Entertainment, is currently on hiatus. Seungri will start his two-year mandatory military service from March 25, according to Yonhap.
On social media, some fans remained loyal to the singer and the band. Under the Twitter tag #SeungriDeservesBetter, user ayobigbang wrote: “We call on the real fans’ voice, do not fall into the shameless trap, we support Seungri!”